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Greetings. I am the Illusive One. For many years now I have been a huge video game player, movie viewer, and book reader. For almost as long, I have been a critic of these things and many people respect my opinions of these things and have often said I belong on G4 doing reviews on X-Play or a similar show. Sadly that is not likely to happen. So instead I shall do reviews for you, uninfluenced by other reviewers, of video games books, movies, and, occasionally, music and political actions. I hope you find this informative and helpful. Thank you for your time.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Bourne Identity V.S. Casino Royal






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            James Bond or Jason Bourne?  MI6 of CIA?  S.P.E.C.T.E.R./Quantum or Treadstone?  A set of questions that has always been a matter of debate between a friend of mine and me, (although not as heated as our Star Wars/LOTR debate), so for my next edition of Franchise V.S. Franchise I decided to put The Bourne Identity against Casino Royal.  I know it wasn't on my initial list, but this one just popped into my head and I had recently re-watched both films so I decided to go with this one.  As with my previous post, I hope you don't get too pissed off at me for choosing one film over the other and I hope you enjoy it.  This is The Bourne Identity V.S. Casino Royal.

The Protagonist



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            James Bond or Jason Bourne?  Now if I was comparing Bourne to Bond, I'd have to go back to every actor who ever played Bond so I'll just stick to Daniel Craig's performance as Bond against Matt Damon's Bourne for these two films. So which is the superior?
            Well, I have to say, Craig’s Bond was one badass mother fucker.  He never thought twice about killing his enemies, he always had this look in his eye that told people to back off or I'll break your neck but at the same time he still had all of Bond's charms and is my personal favorite Bond.  Unfortunately, he seems to take just as much, if not more, inspiration from Jack Bauer from 24 as previous Bonds.  For as much as I liked Daniel Craig's Bond, he always struck me as just being mean, sociopathic, obvious as a spy, and seemed like the kind of guy who stole milk money from other kids as a kid.      
            Then you have Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, a CIA assassin who loses his memory after an assignment goes wrong.  Whereas Craig’s Bond seemed obvious Damon's Bourne struck me as an everyman; a guy who could actually pass off as a civilian and was very believable as a guy who had lost his memory and can't understand why he knows how to do the things he does.  At the same time, he was kind of a wimpy looking character; one who probably had his milk money stolen as a kid. 
            In these two films, I have to say that Bourne is the superior protagonist but only in the context of these films, (I'm not saying that Jason Bourne is a better character then Bond).  In this film, I just found him more believable as a CIA assassin then Craig as an MI6 agent.  Not to mention I always found Bourne to be the more interesting character.  I don't mean to say that Bond is boring but you knew exactly what you were getting when you saw him and there weren't any surprises with him.  With Bourne, on the other hand, you weren't really sure what you were going to get.  One moment he could be a nice guy and the next he could snap a man’s neck.  It made him more unpredictable and the more interesting character of the two.
          Is he one of the Expendables?  No.  He's a CIA agent and you're not supposed to be able to pick them out of a crowd.  Craig just seemed like the obvious choice; a guy who if you saw you'd instantly know something was fishy about him and the point of CIA/MI6 agents is that they're not suppose to be obvious.  Point goes to The Bourne Identity.







The Antagonists




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            Treadstone or Quantum?  Which is superior?  Well, let’s examine the villains of both films and find out.  First off, you have Le Chiffre.  Unlike a lot of other James Bond villains, he's not a criminal mastermind, he's not a trillionaire bent on world domination and he's not some badass assassin.  He's a business man; an investment broker to be more precise who makes money for various terrorist organizations, mainly Quantum, (although they never call the organization that in the film).  When he finally meets Bond, he goes after him with stealth and intelligence rather than power, poisoning him and playing mind games with him during the card games.  Then there is the torture scene at the end of the film.  All I have to say is that you've got to be one cruel mother fucker to do that.
            And then there my personal favorite villain of the James Bond series: Mr. White.  To me, he's the character who justifies the saying less is more.  He has very little screen time, but whenever he's on you know he's planning something and always has a “don't fuck with me” kind of look on him.  When La Chiffre ultimately fails and reveals he could turn at any moment, Mr. White doesn’t hesitate to kill him and all of his men quickly, coldly, and efficiently.
            The villains in The Bourne Identity always struck me as being...well a bit of a mess.  Various Treadstone agents go to kill Bourne, even though they're all part of the same organization.  They just assume Bourne has gone rouge and that's the only thing driving them.  While you want to see Bourne beat these guys they were neither compelling nor interesting.  So this one is kind of obvious.  Point goes to Casino Royal.







The Supporting Protagonists




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            This one I'll keep brief because in The Bourne Identity, there really weren't any except for Marie and even her involvement and romance with Bourne seemed flat out random.  With Casino Royal however you had Judi Dench as M, who's the usual bureaucratic yet supporting bitch and Jeffrey Wright as the best incarnation of Felix Lighter ever.  Even though she wasn't my favorite Bond Girl by any means, I felt that Eva Green was good as Vesper.  She was a good, fickle character and a welcome member of the cast along with a number of other great supporting characters, (although they left out Moneypenny and Q and I found this a little disappointing).  So in this regard it's easy.  Point goes to Casino Royal.







The Music





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            In this regard, it comes down to two songs: You Know my Name by Chris Cornell and Extreme Ways by Moby and I have to say You Know my Name was probably the best song I've ever heard in any James Bond film.  Unfortunately, James Bond's trademark theme song was also used and by this point I had already grown sick of it.  With The Bourne Identity they I found Extreme Ways to be very catchy and enjoyable but was diluted due to the symphasizer sound it had and I found this irritating.  I enjoyed both songs but I'm going with You Know my Name because I felt it was the better song.  Point goes to Casino Royal.







Action Scenes


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            Both films contained action scenes that were both gritty and intense and kept you on the edge of your seat but in this matter, it’s still Bond who was the better.  Why you may ask?  Casualties for one thing.  The action scenes in Casino Royal had higher body counts.  In the first half of The Bourne Identity, all Bourne seemed to do was disarm cops and security personal.  In fact he didn't kill too many people at all throughout this film.  Maybe that was supposed to make him more sympathetic but I always felt cheated in this department.  The one on one fights were great, especially in the way they used every potential weapon in the area like kitchen knives, lamp wires, and even a ballpoint pen at one point.  But even these weren't enough to lift the action scenes.  With Casino Royal, however, the scale was always tipped against Bond and made for more intense and epic fights.  Point goes to Casino Royal. 






Plot/Concept



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            To be fair, both of these films seemed like they were made just to introduce audiences to the characters and plots of the series.  The new James Bond films are really just re-imaginings, reboots, or remakes, (take you pick over which is the right word), of the original films as they contain grittier concepts, more realistic plots, and are all around darker than the other Bond films.  In Casino Royal, Bond is trying to stop a terrorist organization from funding their projects and you don't get much more realistic then that.  Granted the whole card game thing seemed a little stupid at first glance but it was executed in such a great way that it made it tangible. 
            The Bourne Identity, however, didn't have as much hanging over it.  The whole concept behind it was that a man loses his memory and quickly finds that he has insane combat skills and can think up, do, and notice things that most people can't while assassins are trying to kill him.  While this is a good concept, it wasn't executed very well at all. 
            The whole plot in Casino Royal revolving around a secret terrorist organization and its backers it was, on the whole, far more compelling and better executed.  Point goes to Casino Royal.






Climax



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            I honestly don't have much to say about the climaxes of either film.  With The Bourne Identity, you got a bit of a lackluster gun fight down a flight of stairs that didn't last two minutes and Jason remembering his last mission.  Not much more to it than that.  With Casino Royal, you had a great end twist and a gun fight within a crumbling building floating in Venice.  Not the best climax I've ever seen and the one in Quantum of Solace is a lot better but was still better than the one in The Bourne Identity.  In fact, the scene where La Chiffre is torturing Bond actually feels more like the climax then the actual climax and, in that, it makes it an infuriating false climax.  But either one you pick is still better then the Climax in The Bourne Identity.  Point goes to Casino Royal.






 
Ending



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            With Casino Royal, you got an ending that was unexpected and full of twists.  You had a false climax, the actual climax and ended on a bittersweet note with Vesper's betrayal and death.  But then, to make the audience feel good and to get them pumped for the sequel, they show Bond capture Mr. White.  Fuck yea!  With The Bourne Identity, you had an ending that was actually satisfying.  The main villain, (or the closest thing this film has to one), dies, Treadstone gets shut down, and Bourne reunites with his girlfriend.  A typical feel good situation that is bound to be ruined in the sequel.
              All around, however, I found the ending to Casino Royal to be the better.  It was full of twists, found a way to get you hyped for the sequel and ended on a bittersweet note.  Sometimes I like bittersweet endings and other times I prefer feel good ending and in this case I preferred the bittersweet ending.  Point goes to Casino Royal.






The Superior




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            Do I honestly need to tell you which is the superior film?  Well, I did find Jason Bourne to be the more compelling protagonist of the two but that's all this film had going for it.  Casino Royal had the better villains, the better supporting cast, the better music, the better action, the better plot, the better climax and the better ending and is all around the superior film.


            And that's it for The Bourne Identity V.S. Casino Royal.  I will admit that this one was considerably shorter then my other Franchise V.S. Franchise posts, but there wasn't much to talk about on this one as it was only one film against the other.  I also have to say, putting these films against one another was kind of unfair as it was just a slaughter for Casino.  And that's all I have to say on this matter.  Until next time this is The Illusive One and to you Bourne fans who are pissed at me for this post, take Solace in the fact that the next battle between Bourne and Bond for Supremacy will be a much tougher one.



3 comments:

  1. You bastard son of a motherless dog... you dare say Bond is a less compelling protagonist than Jason 'Matt Damon smash' Bourne?

    (shakes head)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yep. And I make no apologies for it.

    ReplyDelete